$~£~€..What’s in your wallet? .. $~£~€~

On September 9, our Homeaway subscription expires and will not be renewing for another year. We are accepting reservations through October 31, 2016. If you are a previous guest or have referred our rental to someone, please contact us to see if we can accommodate reservations after November 1.

Until our subscription expires, guests can book through Homeaway and pay their service fee which based on our rates, is at their highest percentage, near 10%. Guests have the option to pay us directly from Paypal, by credit card, or personal check, with no service fee included.     

We’ve felt forced into this decision after the sale of Homeaway/VRBO by Expedia and the service fee added in February, which has been disastrous for vacation home owners. Hundreds of us have experienced a drastic drop in inquiries, and a significant decrease in bookings from prior years.  Constant changes to their policies and homeowner management website, implemented without advance notice, has been a frustrating, time-wasting effort.

Vacation rental owners receive no benefit or financial gain from this new service fee paid directly by our guests to Homeaway. To list on Homeaway, owners pay an annual subscription or a 10% commission, and now guests are expected to help contribute as well.

Homeaway/VRBO, without owner’s knowledge, allowed our listings to appear on the website,  transler.com , an auction website like Priceline, to offer our homes at drastically reduced rates.

We have homes in communities, with neighbors, and may be subject to home association or municipal regulations.  We cannot, and will not, consider our home part of a commercial inventory to be reserved like a hotel room.

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✍ An update on the Cleaning fee Conundrum ✍

Beginning my home vacation rental journey in January 2014, there was no cleaning fee. Check it out: https://pineviewretreat.wordpress.com/2014/01/06/no-cleaning-fee-so-far-it-hasnt-hurt-me/

Nearing our year-and-half anniversary, I’ve changed my mind. Now there is a $50 charge — but — for 5 or more guests. “Why?” are you wondering?

Larger groups cooking and prepping a meal in our smaller, very organized kitchen can be a wee bit chaotic. It’s the only room in the house that needs half of the cleaning hours I spend to prep for guest arrival.

It’s tempting to list the typical ‘oops’ clean-up chores after a larger group has checked out. Will pass on the opportunity though, so I don’t sound like a complainer or a whiner. We’ve had family events in the house and cleaning after a larger group of guests is about the same. The only difference is that it adds another 2 hours to prep the kitchen for the next arrival. Let’s end that discussion with my saying, the $50 cleaning fee for 5+ guests is a necessary evil.

Time for my confession: Back in the day, before I knew what it was really like to run a vacation rental, I passed over vacation rentals I was considering if there was a cleaning fee. Now that is not always the case.

It’s easy to think the rental rate a host charges implies they’re making ‘money’. Consider a mortgage payment, taxes and utilities, guest and maintenance supplies, eventually replacing something worn or updating. Some hosts pay a cleaning service and the cleaning fee covers some or all of their cost. Some hosts include the cleaning cost as part of the rental rate, which might have me pass over a potential rental if the rate is higher than what I had in mind.

Now I appreciate that many vacation hosts, like me, are accruing home equity rather than gleaning a nice profit.